Actor-vocalist Mandy Gonzalez has so much going for her at all times, it’s hard to believe she has time for an interview. “Right now, I’m at the Richard Rodgers Theatre before the matinee, and it’s so empty and quiet, it’s actually a little bit lonely,” she says.
Gonzalez currently stars in the smash Broadway hit “Hamilton” as Angelica Schuyler in addition to a recurring role on “Madame Secretary” on CBS. Soon, Gonzalez will start rehearsals for her upcoming gigs on July 3 and 4 with the Philly Pops for two Wawa Welcome America events: POPS on Independence and POPS on the Parkway.
“I can’t wait,” she says with a laugh. “It will keep me busy.
Something that Gonzalez is famous for is being a replacement, a challenging position to be in, but one she’s faced with guts and innovation. She’s so good at it that she won a Broadway.com Award for Best Replacement for tackling the heralded Elphaba role in “Wicked” (originally performed by Idina Menzel), before doing her current role as Angelica in “Hamilton, ”succeeding Tony-winner Renée Elise Goldsberry.
“The thing that’s so wonderful about doing “Hamilton” now, is that nine years ago I was here with Lin-Manuel (“Hamilton”’s author and original lead actor/rapper) originating the role of Nina Rosario in his ‘In the Heights,’ so it feels like home — working with family.” Gonzalez notes.
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The authors and creative directors reworked the role to fit her, as much as her “natural humanity” worked with their original conception of Angelica. ”As long as you bring your truth and your story, it will work wonderfully. Bring yourself as a ‘replacement’ and no one can ever duplicate that. Same thing with ‘Wicked.”
Gonzalez goes on to say that she performed in the earliest reading of “Wicked” and came up with Elphaba.
“I knew who Elphaba was because she felt like I did then: an outsider, somebody different. With Angelica, I get her too because of her sense of duty and commitment to country, that sense of protection she has for her family.”
Gonzales is referring to the fact that her father spent his life in the Army and fought long and hard to bring his family to America.
“Growing up, I didn’t realize that other kids weren’t devoting as much time as I did to Veteran’s Day and Memorial’s Day,” she says. “We put the flag up on 4th of July and it doesn’t come down all summer.”
Gonzalez admits she is especially psyched for her second appearance with the Philly Pops during the 2017 Independence holiday.
“First off the Philly Pops is awesome, so singing in front of them is exciting,” says Gonzalez. “Plus, I’m, opening for Mary J. Blige and your Boyz II Men. Do you know how great that is? “Motownphilly was the first album I bought with my own money as a kid, so I’ll be coming full circle in Philly.”